Butterwort (Pinguicula moranensis)
This tender, deciduous and insectivorous plant hails from warm and humid areas of Mexico, and it makes a surprisingly good houseplant. The plant catches its prey -mostly small flies – on its rosette of bright green, thick, greasy leaves: the upper leaf surfaces have glands which produce a sticky, mucus-like fluid. Insects are attracted to this fluid, and become stuck fast: then the leaf partially rolls inwards – almost imperceptibly – and produces an enzyme which actively de-composes the prey and allows the ‘food’ to become accessible to the plant. The Butterwort rests in Autumn and Winter, often remaining as a tight and compact rosette of small leaves for the dormant phase: once growth begins again, the sticky ‘Summer’ leaves appear, followed by the flowers.
Keep the Butterwort ticking over during Winter at a minimum temperature of 10°C (50°F): in Summer, it will grow best at around 13-15°C (55-60°F). It prefers these cooler temperatures and needs plenty of ventilation in warmer weather.
Place this plant out of direct sunlight and provide good, bright, but indirect, light for optimum growth; light shade is also tolerated. Direct sunlight will scorch the greasy leaves.
As with all insectivorous plants, Pinguicula moranensis needs constantly moist: stand the pot in a tray of rainwater and keep it topped up.
Any necessary humidity will be provided by the moist compost: the insectivorous leaves need moist air around them, so keep the tray filled with water at all times.
Insectivorous plants catch their own food and should never be given any sort of houseplant food.
Repot as necessary in Spring, probably every 2-3 years: use half-pans and a compost blend of equal parts of moss peat and washed sharp sand. Proprietary com-posts are unsuitable, as they contain additional plant food, which may damage the roots.
Grow this plant among Orchids where it will act – as a natural ‘insecticide’ against the small flies which pester many such plants.
Aphids may decimate the newly-unfurling leaves in early Spring, but once they are fully open, the problem disappears. Treat bad attacks with an insecticide containing pirimicarb, or use a leaf from another insectivorous plant – the Sundew – to mop up the offending pests.